The 8 F's

Focused on Faith, Family, Friends, Finances, Freedom, Following, Fitness and Fun

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Nudge

Did you ever feel God nudging you to do something, to take on a new project or service?  It’s not always a comfortable feeling. After Hurricane Katrina came through the Mississippi gulf coast, He nudged me to take action.  I happened to live in Biloxi and went to a church that played an integral part in the rebuilding process. Our Pastor’s wife, Judy Bultman, was the Director for our volunteer ministry.  She was/is an amazing woman. God anointed her and she became a leader with a gift of inspiring others. She loved the ministry. Then her husband retired and they moved to Georgia, where they were originally from. That left a gaping hole in the ministry.

The Director position needed to be filled for the ministry to continue. More homes needed to be rebuilt and we were the “food and shelter” for the volunteers that came from all over the U.S. to rebuild homes. Judy came to me one day and asked if I would take over. I have never felt smaller and so inadequate to fill a job.  Just like Saul who said, “Me? Am I not from the smallest tribe in Israel? Is not my clan the least of these?” 1 Samuel 9:21  I gave every excuse I could think of as to why I was the worst person for the job.  But I still felt God nudging me to take this on.  Instead of asking the Lord what gifts have you given me to do the job right, I was asking Him to let me out of it. I took the job without a joyful heart. But God has a way of changing our hearts to His Glory and revealing our gifts to serve Him.

This job was a 24 hour kind of job.  We had volunteers at our church day and night.  I had a family with 2 small children.  My kids spent a lot of time at the church with me.  I was on call 24/7.  It was difficult juggling work and family, more so with a 24 hour job.  And I was not a good time manager.  I had to learn to delegate and let go of a few things.

While Judy was the Director, she had started a tradition of prayer time every morning after breakfast and before the volunteers went out to work on houses. This became the highlight of my day.  At first I was very nervous about praying in front of others, but it was expected of me because I was the leader. As the days passed, I began to relax and not worry about what others thought and focused on praising our amazing Creator, our Lord and Savior.

I learned many things during this time. It was a true to life, “Come to Jesus” moment in time. Some leaders are born, some are made and some are thrown into the battle to sink or swim.  Let’s just say, some days I sank, some days I swam, and still other days I swam with the sharks. I was NOT a Judy Bultman.  But, I was an obedient, joyful servant of God. And He used me to serve others, just as I had been praying for many years.

Everyone has gifts they can use to serve God. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. But how often do we put ourselves in a position to build our strengths and weaknesses?  Our spiritual strengths need to be built, just like our muscles. We need to “workout” every day in order to be strong spiritually and mentally.  God knew I needed to stretch and grow spiritually.  That is why He put me in a position that I was not quite ready for. I wouldn’t have done it on my own.  He nudged me into stretching and working out my strengths.

When you feel uncomfortable doing something new, that just means you are stretching.  Your mind and spirit need to be stretched in order to grow.  So, if you are ready to grow and don't mind being a little uncomfortable, try something new.  What can you do to work out every day?  Here are a couple of things that have worked for me:  

1 .    Study the Bible.  It is full of strengths and weaknesses we can learn from.  The characters from the Bible were not fictional characters or folk tales.  They were real people, with real feelings, with real issues to deal with.  We can learn from their mistakes and their successes.  

2 .        Take a Spiritual Gifts inventory.  Find out what your gifts are and ask God where you can use your gifts to glorify Him.  

3.     Stretch your mind by taking the Mental Fitness Challenge(MFC).  The MFC is sweeping the nation, challenging people to "Live the Life You've Always Wanted."  I am taking the MFC right now…stretching my mind.  You can take the 7 Day Free Challenge and find out what your strengths and weaknesses are with the free assessment. Follow this link:  

4.     Pray for God to stretch you and guide you along the way.  Then glorify Him when you begin to change and grow!

   Blessings!  Glory to God for all our good things!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

God Stopped the Sun

James 1: 6-8  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

For years I struggled with my faith, not quite trusting what God's plan was for me. Just the word itself, FAITH, was kind of scary to me. Because I thought that meant I had to let go of everything, I could not be in control. After much reading of the Bible and other good books, prayer and meditation, I discovered that is only partially true. Yes, I have to let God drive the vehicle. But I have to take care of the vehicle. I still have responsibilities that I must control. I am in control of my own faith! Faith is BELIEF that God has a plan for you. It's taking steps on the path God has laid out for you. Faith is an ACTION word! When you take action, so does God, and in a BIG BIG way!

So what actions can I take for God to perform miracles in my life? The first action is belief. If you don't quite believe but want to, here is way to bolster your faith:  read the Bible. It is full of great stories of faith! Meditate on scripture day and night.  Find scripture that you can refer to in your everyday life. Write them down and carry them in your pocket or purse to refer to during your work day. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. This is one area that you do have control over.

You have control over your thoughts, what you think, what you ALLOW in your head. Do I allow negative thoughts to creep into my thinking? If so, do I allow them to stay there? Why? I am in control. What are my options? Well, I can let the negative thoughts stay there and infect my soul. Or, I can replace the negative with positive. What a great idea! But this takes constant vigilance. Negative thoughts create fear. Positive ones create hope! When you replace your negative thoughts with positive ones, you allow God into your heart. When you allow the negative thoughts to fester inside of you, you keep God from working miracles in your life. And God is all about miracles! He wants to create miracles for you.

The second action step is to do something that demonstrates your belief. Maybe you believe that God is leading you to missions work in another country, or in taking care of the homeless, or even the young single mother who appeared in your church last Sunday, or maybe you feel God asking you to be a better money manager for Him. What steps could you take in obedience to the tug of your heart strings? What kind of help do they need? What books do you need to read to improve your chances of success?  Who can you talk to that has already been down this road?

Start asking questions. Do some research. Find out what might be needed. Is your knowledge in this area as good as it could be? And then watch while God steps in and helps you make a plan of action. As you make that first step, He will provide a second and a third.  The more obedient you are, the more He provides. Pray for guidance. Pray for courage. Pray for strength. Pray for miracles, TAKE ACTION and watch God at work.

God's plan for you will never happen unless you take action, until you believe and are obedient to Him. Faith is a requirement for God to fulfill your destiny. Lisa Turkquirst said recently at an Exceptional Women's Conference, "My job is to be obedient to God. God's job is results." It is a symbiotic relationship. In order for God to get results and show off His Glory, so there is no doubt in anyone's mind that He made the impossible possible, we must be obedient to Him. We must have faith so that everyone can see His Glory!

I love the story of Joshua 10:12-14. Joshua was in the middle of conquering the Promised Land, in a heated battle with the five Kings of the Amorites. Joshua prayed to God to stop the sun so they could finish the battle. And God did just that! He stopped the sun for an extra day! Joshua's faith was so strong and he was so obedient that God did as he asked. God got results and there was no doubt in anyone's mind who performed that miracle.

Do you think Joshua was afraid? I certainly would have been. Taking action, at times, may be very scary. Having courage means pushing on anyway, even though we are scared. Being afraid and taking action anyway is called obedience. God's most amazing miracles happen when we are obedient in the face of fear. Don't be surprised when God steps in to save the day. Many times it will be obvious, as the sun stopping. Other times we won't know until later, the results of His handywork. He won't leave any doubt about who should get the credit for His work. He shines brightest when you are faithful and obedient!

Blessings! Glory to God for all our good things!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Something's Missing

I spent five years in the military flying on C-130s as a Loadmaster. It was the best part-time job I ever had. Well, let me rephrase that. I thought it was the best part-time job at the time. It was definitely fun and full of temptations. My weakness was having too much fun...partying and drinking too much. I often said and did things that hurt other people, things that I regret. I cussed like a sailor, just like my Grandmother! It was all good natured, but not lady-like, and definitely not honorable. When I wasn't drinking, I was actually a nice person. But, you know what, nice isn't good enough for God.
He wanted me, all of me, and I wasn't willing to sacrifice my "fun times" for Him.

I remember thinking that something was missing in my life. And I tried to fill it with things that I thought mattered. I watched hours of TV, read tons of Sci-Fi, tried different hobbies. But none of it was satisfying. The "missingness" eluded me. I woke up each day with a hunger that couldn't be quenched.

What's really funny is many of the other airmen would come to me. like a counselor. and confide that they felt something missing in their lives too! How could I help them when I couldn't even help myself? I never let on that I was having the same problem they were. I tried to help them find purpose in their lives. Ever heard of that saying, "That's like copper calling the kettle black."? Yep! That was me! I was probably a shade darker than them! Tarnished beyond recognition.

It took another decade of lessons for me to learn my purpose and fill the emptiness inside of me. I came back to Christ in 2001 when my first child was baptized. Christ took me in like the prodigal son. I felt at home for the first time in fifteen years. But my hunger wasn't quenched. I then went looking for my purpose. I immediately read Rick Warren's, The Purpose Driven Life, and loved it. But it still did not put me any closer to my purpose. I felt sure that I had a purpose, but could not detect what it was. I knew that I was supposed to help people. But how!!!

Many years of volunteering for different charities still left me void. I enjoyed the volunteering but felt no passion. The hunger was still there! And then divine intervention occurred. I knew it immediately. I felt I needed to start my own business and was looking on-line for a franchise that would suit mine and my family's needs. I had narrowed it down to 3. They were all under $20K to get started. That would have wiped out our savings. But, I was so desparate to have a purpose, I was willing to pay any price. As I was weighing my options, the phone rang. It was a friend of mine who said that he had a business opportunity he wanted to show me. My head started to spin and my ears rang. I said, "Can you come over right now?"

And the rest is history. That was three years ago. Thanks to Orrin Woodward, the author of Resolved: 13 Resolutions for Life, I have zeroed in on my purpose and have a vehicle to drive the dream!!  The hunger has turned into a passion that would light up the entire Eastern seaboard. My purpose to help others has taken a road I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams.  I will save that for another post. :D  Glory to God for all our good things!